A couple comments on disclosure triangles

A couple comments on disclosure triangles

  1. Since the disclosure triangles don’t rotate, I think I’d prefer the filled/unfilled circles of Taskpaper. I find that they more easily fade into the background.
  2. FWIW the current triangles seem a bit chunky to me. A caret might look better to my eyes, but I think a non-rotating caret might break expectations more than a non-rotating triangle.
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I agree there’s something imperfect about using triangles that don’t rotate when in most contexts they do rotate. With that said I still prefer that they don’t rotate.

Carets go better with new macOS finder style, but they look to light to me. It would also mean that collapsed items wouldn’t pop out so well since not so many black pixels.

Bullets are also a reasonable approach, and make some sense without rotation, but I just tried and for me I just like the triangle’s look better. They more distinctly say “outliner” to me.

Post 1.0 I plan to add theme support, and I expect themes will allow you to change the default handle shape. There’s also ideas to explore around item types (for example if there’s an auto-numbering ordered list type, how does that numbering interact with handle) … or just using handle shape as a customizable decoration. Dave Winers “Drummer” outliner allows you to assign arbitrary font-icons to items.

So in summary, probably keep as is, but longer term should be customizable and I might revisit defaults when adding future features.

FTR I think a non-rotating icon is the right choice for this kind of app. (TaskPaper’s stubborn refusal to adopt UX fluff is the reason I love TaskPaper.)

And that theming option seems like the right way to allow customization :+1:

The only other disclosure triangle change I’d like to see: slightly-rounded corners, like SF Symbols.

SF Symbols:
Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 5.02.23 PM

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 5.02.39 PM


In the latest preview you can customize handle by putting handle.png into Application support folder. I think around 32x32 size is good base size. To find the application support folder go into preferences and there’s a button to open it in Finder.

Eventually this will be done through a stylesheet of some sort. Right now I’m just looking for a better default then what I currently have. I still like what I have quite a lot and don’t really expect to change it, but I’m willing to try. Please post anything that you come up with and I’ll give it a try. Thanks.

I personally prefer the existing triangle – anything more obtrusive might risk distracting from the content.

The Tufte maxim – minimum effective (visual) difference – is always a good starting point for unburdened cognition.

My complaint about the current triangle is that it’s too obtuse, so I can’t as easily move my attention from marker to content. Something closer to an equilateral triangle would clearly point to the content.

Were you able to find a good replacement?

As of Bike (220) you can try alternatives by placing an image named “handle.png” into Bike’s application support folder. That folder can be hard to locate, but if you open Bike’s preferences panel there’s a button that will open it directly.

Anyway you can try this alternative:


Better? Or modify further.

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I might round off the top and bottom points a bit more, but this looks very good to me!

With this “handle.png” feature, is there a way to specify handles that do rotate? My brain internalized flippy triangles that flip from the Finder circa System 6 any triangles that don’t flip feel wrong to me. I get the outliner history of triangles that don’t flip — I have been reading Dave Winer’s blog since like 1994! — but they will never feel right to me.

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Not that I am aware of, but I would love it if such were implemented.

My other problem with Bike’s style of handles is that the handle for a node with no children is exactly the same as the handle for an expanded node that does have children.

I’ve always thought that a grayed-out triangle semantically implies “no children”. That makes sense to me — no children, so there’s nothing to expand or collapse, so it’s grayed out. But my instincts say that if there are children, the triangle should always be black, and either point right (collapsed) or down (expanded).

These are my personal preferences and they’re based on my own instincts/sensibilities/experience. Not saying Bike’s defaults should change to match them. (But I’d like it if they did!)


I don’t think I’ll change handle options for 1.0, but will revisit when adding stylesheet support in some later release. I’m worried I’ll create a mess of options that just all break again when I do styles.

My two goals with handles are:

  1. Fade into the background, I just want to focus on my outline text. I think they do this best when they all look the same.

  2. I want a strong signal when part of my outline is folded. That’s something I can’t see by viewing my outline text, and so that’s when I do want a handle to look as different as possible.